Unsung Heroines of Horror: Jo Ann Sayers

Published February 23, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Granted, the elegant Jo Ann Sayers shared a strong professional association with one of the grand dames of cinema, Rosalind Russell. Sayers not only co-starred with Russell in the bright 1939 mystery Fast and Loose, but she also originated the title role in My Sister Eileen, a popular comedy that would bring Russell continued success in later years. Sayers, perhaps, showed her greatest sense of fortitude, though, in her final major screen role. As the determined Judith Blair, a skilled nurse and the favored companion of the investigative Dr. Mason, Sayers brings a sense of true spunk to the 1940 Boris Karloff thriller The Man With Nine Lives and proves that the women of those early horror programmers were often just as vital and adventurous as their male counterparts. jo-ann-sawyers-2

Following the determined Mason (Roger Pryor) to a deserted island, Sayers’ Blair is a magnificent trooper. Even after falling through loose flooring, she helps her curious companion pick away at a wall of ice and assists him in reviving the slumbering Leon Kravaal (Karloff), whose work has kept him (and several other unfortunates) secreted away in a coma for 10 years. Mason is thrilled when Kravaal awakens because, separately, the two have been trying to regulate the use of elongated deep freeze to cure patients of terminal disease. Soon Kravaal realizes that he has accidentally perfected his formula, but the antagonism of the three companions who have been trapped along with him proves to be disastrous. After a one of the men is shot, the unhinged Kravaal kidnaps everyone, determined to perfect his work on them.

Soon Blair is serving as cook, conscience and companion to all. As their numbers dwindle due to Kravaal’s psychosis, she even allows herself to be the mad doctor’s final guinea pig in order to spare Mason. With dignity and poise, Sayers enacts mother, heroine and dignified pin-up here – while the men are often regulated to simple emotions such as fear and anger. Sayers also foreshadows the popular final girl characters of the early 80s when Blair survives Kravaal’s tinkering and lives to work another day with Mason.man-with-nine-lives

Naturally, Karloff, sporting a dusty beard, is magnetic here, portraying a handsome and soft spoken genius eternally teetering eternally on the brink of madness. Visually, cinematographer Benjamin Kline also captures the icy set design with a taut arctic sweep, offering up a nice alternative to the moors and shadowy corners of the day’s popular Frankenstein and Wolf Man pieces. But the most impressive piece of cinema elegance here may be Sayers’ lovely cheekbones and expressive eyes, making her take on Blair a force of celluloid nature in every sense of the word.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Evelyn “Champagne” King

Published February 19, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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She was the Queen of Shame, due to her propulsive disco hit of the same name, but the glorious Evelyn “Champagne” King also deserves credit for being a seminal horror movie soundtrack diva. Her seductive Give It Up highlighted the dance floor seduction scene between Chris Sarandon’s commanding Jerry Dandridge and Amanda Bearse’s awkward Amy Peterson in 1985’s beloved Fright Night.

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Currently, King, who had multiple R&B and dance club hits throughout the prime of her career, is still showing the world that there will always be “love comedown” at https://www.facebook.com/evelynchampagnekingfanpage/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Spotlight: Christina Koenig, Filmmaker

Published February 16, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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As an indie filmmaker you’ve got to be inventive. As evidenced by You’re Not Here Now, her starkly effective horror short, transgender writer/director/actress Christina Koenig is truly running high on inspiration. Simple yet haunting, this piece features a nice representation of solitary terror and a truly formidable sense of (increasingly desperate) time and space, as well. Visually, the colors’ pop, and fans of The Twilight Zone, especially the more apocalyptic episodes, should find much to enjoy here, as well.

Koenig is, currently, working on her follow-up production, Deviance. More information on that (sure to be interesting) project is available at: https://www.facebook.com/DevianceOfficiaHorrorMovieMN/.

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Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!                                                    

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Amy Irving

Published February 12, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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Amy Irving regretted picking on Carrie and lived to tell the tale. Of course, as everyone knows, any wickedness in the world of horror is eventually compensated for. Therefore, Irving’s Sue Snell did eventually pay the ultimate price for her past misdeeds in 1999’s highly contested sequel The Rage: Carrie 2.

Perhaps, she could have taken some advice from Jessica Rabbit, the character she voiced/sang in 1988’s modern classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Irving, who also provided some sweet tunefulness in (the Willie Nelson starring) Honeysuckle Rose, famously sent John Cassavetes’ evil Ben Childress to a fiery grave in Brian DePalma’s The Fury, as well. Now, that’s a nice record!

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Until the next (semi-explosive) time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Housesitters

Published February 10, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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I’m a little jealous. In my stints as a house and dog sitter I found some weird things – homemade porn, leopard print sheets scented with perfume. I even got shown around one apartment by an owner who made no effort to hide his early morning boner. But, I never sat at a place with a creepy pentagram strewn basement and its own personal demon!

Best friends and eternal wisecrackers Angie (Annie Watkins) and Izzy (Jamie Jirak) hit the jackpot in director-writer Jason Coffman’s truly fun horror-comedy Housesitters, though.  Left a credit card and enough 80s/90s fashions in one closet for an effective musical montage, all they need is a couple of hot, trouble making  dudes to make their first house sitting adventure a total success. That’s where Greg (James Timothy Peters), a pizza delivery guy, and Zach (Peter Ash), Izzy’s boyfriend, come in.  Zach, in a nonverbal apology for eating all of Angie’s brownies, also brings along her current crush, Mark (Ben Schlotfelt).

But soon Greg and Mark are attacked by a miniature green creature and disappear. The appearance of Zach’s friend Dan (Jay J. Bidwell) singles more mayhem. Unable to leave the house due to their benefactor’s devilish dealings, the group venture to the basement to try to resolve their problems. The wounded Dan, though, emerges as something a bit more demonic and life between the bosom companions will never be the same again.

Smartly utilizing one location, haunted by Dustin Wayde Mills’ ravenously adorable monster-puppet, Coffman wisely builds the relationships between his main characters here. In fact, Watkins and Jirak are so natural and spontaneously goofy that they become the highlight of this tight yet carefree production. As the closing credits roll, it is obvious that they were allowed to riff on and improvise a large part of their material, making “Broad City Meets Monster Movie” a hoped for trend in the near future.

The duo’s male co-stars, Ash, Schlotfelt, Peters and Bidwell, also key into their low-key, naturalistic vibe. They all deliver believable and slightly ironic performances, surely a product of their seeming theatrical groundedness. Their skill, coupled with the surprising twists that Coffman provides for their characters in the film’s final moments, ultimately make Housesitters a truly entertaining celluloid outing. That it is also one filled with femme powered horror amusements is probably its greatest strength and joy. Let’s hope this really is a trend!

Note: This review was done on a work-in-progress version of the movie as it gears up for festival submissions. To be sure to join Angie and Izzy as they party their way to different events, follow https://www.facebook.com/HousesittersMovie/.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Nancy Sinatra

Published February 5, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

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She defined an entire generation with a giddy sneer, a charming pout, some (fine, fine) tunes and…those (almost living, breathing) boots!

The superlative Nancy Sinatra also gave it her all in a number of teen comedies and genre films including Get Yourself a College Girl and The Wild Angels. Nicely, 1966’s fun The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini featured a number of silly supernatural happenings and appearances from such horror stalwarts as Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone.

Looking frisky and fabulous, Nancy also contributed Geronimo, a fun tune for that project, as well.

Currently, the passionate Sinatra is always creating a happening at https://www.facebook.com/NancySinatra and www.nancysinatra.com.

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Review: Blessed Are the Children

Published February 2, 2017 by biggayhorrorfan

blessed-are-posterWillow, the adorable toddler in the apartment across from me, always seems to be in front of my door when I’m making a quick exit for work or the grocery store. She, breathlessly, will tell me about her adventures at her babysitter’s house or how her cat, always misbehaving, has stepped on her feet again. I’ll cluck, encouragingly or sympathetically (whatever the case may call for), and hurry on my way. If that is stalking, I’ll take it.

Traci, a woman breaking away from a violent relationship, in director-writer Chris Moore’s emotional Blessed Are the Children, though, finds herself, unfortunately, fixated upon by some violent, mask wearing strangers after her visit to a women’s clinic. These mysterious villains are soon obliterating the men in her life and are also putting Traci and her roommates, Mandy and Erin, in harm’s way, as well. Could these figures be tied in with Traci’s disapproving mother or is there something much more malevolent at work here?

Whatever the answers, Moore is to be highly commended for taking a series of social issues and placing them, firmly, in the context of the traditional slasher film. He delves into all the reasons that Traci (a finely modulated Kaley Ball) decides an abortion is the right decision for her and, with the effervescent help of actress Keni Bounds, he creates one of the strongest lesbian characters to ever benefit a genre film with Mandy. Fun, mothering and complex, she is the standout personality here.blessed-are-mandy

Granted, it’s a fine line to walk in a film wallowing in violence and retribution. There is always the chance that certain viewers will assume that Moore is suggesting that Traci and Mandy deserve any bad tidings that come their way. But by the film’s end, one almost imagines that it is this duo, along with Arian Thigpen’s delightfully awkward Erin, that are the real “children” being referred to in the movie’s title, so lovingly are their quirks, foibles and devotion for each other explored. 

Nicely, Moore also provides the expected bloodshed and several twists are sure to give audience members’ a nice sense of surprise, as well. One almost wishes the final act of the film was a bit tighter, but the penultimate moments of the movie are chillingly and haunting rendered, making this project, as a whole, an extremely memorable one. Most importantly, this fadeout also provides a prescient and poetic mediation on the current state of the world, one where hate and bigotry seem relentless and never-ending and we are all innocents in danger of losing not only are freedoms, but our very lives, as well.

https://www.facebook.com/childrenareblessed/

Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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